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Sunday, July 25, 2010
Dissecting Haren’s impact for the Angels


At first glance, the motives behind the Dan Haren trade have to be financially-based for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here is a top-of-the-rotation quality starter who is among the league's leaders in innings and strikeouts who happens to be scheduled to earn around $30M from now through 2012 and the best major-leaguer coming back to Arizona is Joe Saunders (earning a $3.7M salary this season).

In terms of strikeouts and walks, two things that Dan Haren can control regardless of where he pitches and who he pitches for, he is among the best in the majors. Even in this "down" season for him, his 4.86 K/BB ratio is tied with Josh Johnson for 4th best in the majors (behind Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver).

Yes, Dan Haren has allowed the most hits in the NL (161). But you could argue that it's not entirely his fault. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) allowed is .341 - which means his defense has converted only 65.9% of his balls allowed in play into outs. That's far below the MLB average of 70% (or well above a .300 BABIP). It's the 2nd-highest BABIP allowed in the NL. All other Arizona pitchers besides Haren have a .306 BABIP this year.

For those of you looking for reasons why Haren's "disappointing" year might be on the verge of turning around for his new team in Los Angeles, take a look at these numbers.

STRIKEOUTS: His K-per-9 IP mark this season is 9.0, which would be a career-high.

BABIP: His batting-average-on-balls-in-play mark (.341 this season according to baseball-reference) is well above his career average of .296 and would easily be his career high (.316 previously). As alluded to above, it's possible that his struggles have something to do with old-fashioned "bad luck".

ERA: His ERA stands at 4.60, but his Adjusted Fielding Independent Pitching sits at 3.38. That's an excellent mark and below his career average of 3.61. xFIP tries to look at how well a pitcher is pitching, rather than the results of those outings. Could be another indicator of that "bad luck theory".

While there's little arguing that Haren may be having a down year by his lofty standards, there are certainly reasons for Angels fans to be excited about what he brings to their staff.
Historically, Haren has pitched much worse after the All-Star Break in each of his last 5 seasons. His second-half ERA stands at 7.36 after two starts this year after having a 4.36 ERA at the break. Last season, it went from 2.01 before the break to 4.62 after it. Another caution flag must be raised considering how pedestrian Haren has performed at Angel Stadium. In 11 career starts in his new home, he is 3-6 with a 3.75 ERA.

Too bad for the Angels that Interleague has already passed because there are lots of NL pitchers that are probably happy to see Haren out of their league. Haren was having one of the best offensive seasons by a pitcher in a LONG, LONG time. Haren is batting .364, the best by a player whose primary position was pitcher (minimum 50 PA) since Carl Scheib hit .396 for the 1951 Philadelphia Athletics.